Building on the practice of precision agriculture and exploiting recent computer advances, the Chesapeake Conservancy (CC) is developing open-source geoprocessing and analysis tools that help environmental nonprofits and local-government agencies prioritize conservation and restoration decision making. From creating new, high-resolution land-cover data and flow-path analyses based on LiDAR elevation data to developing custom Web applications, it’s giving partners with little or no expertise in GIS or complex modeling access to large-scale data and modeling produced by state and federal agencies as well as larger non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
The CC is trying to identify naturally high-functioning landscapes, such as forest and wetland complexes, that provide water-quality benefits, habitat connectivity and often climate resilience. In doing so, it has likely created the largest, high-resolution land-cover dataset ever, which has also proved useful in urban and suburban areas. For example, it’s helping the District of Columbia calculate the effectiveness of its green infrastructure projects and make tree-management decisions (see “Tree Planting and Monitoring in D.C.” below).